Trauma Bonding: Why It's Hard To Let Go of Toxic People - MumsVillage

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Victim Blaming: Why It’s Hard To Let Go of Toxic People

Last month, we had a Family therapist/Clinical counsellor  speak to our Villagers about Victim Blaming. Jane answered questions from our Villagers, shed light on some questions  and offered expert advice on various topics, which we have compiled into articles such as this one. In this article, we share reasons as to why it’s hard to let go of toxic people.

An abuser and the victim develops a trauma bond that is one of the hardest bonds to break.

Here is the explanation from psych central:

What Is Trauma Bonding? 

Trauma bonding refers to the attachment bond that’s created through repeated abusive or traumatic childhood experiences with the caregiver, whereby this relationship pattern becomes internalized as a learned pattern of behavior for attachment.


If you experienced abuse from a caregiver who also loved you, then you learned to associate love with abuse. This became the template for how you learned to relate to others and form relationships. So, you expect that so as to feel loved you get abused. Abuse seems like  love, and sometimes many become attached to their abusers to feel loved during this way. This is how it works.


Imagine you were abused for being noncompliant as a toddler, so you’re left feeling abandoned and unworthy. In order to connect to the abuser, you learned to satisfy their needs and make them happy and you received love and approval. This became your equation for love. So, you learned to please your abuser so as to receive the love you wanted.

If you were abused as child, you protected your relationship with the parent by preserving the notion of the ‘good parent’, pushing down feelings of anger or hurt towards your parent in order to feel loved or attached. You protected yourself by burying these feelings, and internalizing that there was something wrong with you for upsetting your parents. So, you came to believe that it had been all of your fault, you’re bad, naughty and must make it up to them so as to feel loved and okay. Well, this template is now how you see yourself in relationships with others.


You see yourself as ‘bad’ and deserving of punishment, so you would like to be ‘good’ to urge the love you want. You end up attracting abusive partners, with the wish to be okay for them, so you get the love and approval you’re trying to find.


In essence, you’re still looking for  your abusive father or mother to offer you the lost love you wanted, yet, you bury this fantasy, and replicate this pattern by attracting abusive partners, so you can get them to love you.


Often, when feeling not okay, the need and will  for love is often the right bait that an abusive narcissist hooks into. When you’re meeting all their needs, you are feeling loved and okay, which allows the abuse to be justified. 


When you blame yourself or think something is fundamentally wrong with you, you permit yourself to be put down, because it’s what you’ve already internalized about yourself. You repeat the pattern of putting up with abuse because it’s the interior bond that keeps you attached to the parental abuser, so that you don’t  feel abandoned or not good enough.]

When you justify the abuse or minimize it and blame yourself for it, you become unaware that you simply are being abused. Even as a kid , you deny the abuse is happening so as to feel loved and wanted.


You may not see the important person as abusive but still hold onto the fantasy of being loved which you project onto that person.


Acknowledging the abuse creates the fear of abandonment from the lost love object and awakens pain, that becomes further defended against with denial and self-blame.


Letting go of this fantasy of being loved brings up feelings of abandonment, with associated feelings of not being okay ,causing you to reenact an equivalent attachment pattern with the abusive parent. 


So, the victim of abuse will return to the abuser and justify it. This is often the particular truth about why it’s so hard to chop the ties. It’s a deep wound, a trauma wound that binds them together.


So, how does one detect the signs of a trauma bond?


Signs of Trauma Bonding In An Abusive Relationship — What You Tell  Yourself To Justify The Abuse:

  • He didn’t mean to be angry, it must have been my fault.
  • He puts up with me and still loves me.
  • He had a terrible childhood, I pity him.
  • He doesn’t mean to harm me. 


Notice how the abuser’s behavior is justified and therefore the victim blames herself as if the abuse is her fault.

This is how the victim of trauma bonding minimises and denies the abuse so as to uphold the positive image of the perpetrator, while distorting the truth and being misguided by fantasy love, not real love.


How To Stop Trauma Bonding:

Always take to try and understand someone, while determining their past.

Never jump straight in because it feels good.

Look out for the red flags of abusive behaviour, like feeling pressured or controlled.

Ensure you are often respected for your boundaries (say no).

Make sure what you see is what you get, no hidden truths that emerge later.

Be careful that you simply aren’t being sold an enthralling person to reel you in and hook you.

Be careful when all the ex-partners are crazy, nothing is their fault, or they’re the victim.

Be aware if you’re feeling they’re too good to be true or cause you to feel amazing.

Don’t confuse trauma bonding as real love; it’ll blind you.

True love isn’t abusive, nor does one distort the way they see yourself and your partner so as to suit the fantasy of being loved.

Real love means you are feeling loved while expressing yourself. Real love isn’t conditional upon pleasing someone, but being faithful yourself.


Why Trauma Bonding Stops You From Leaving Your Abusive Partner

Real love isn’t romanticized love, but how you affect the ups and downs of living and seeing one another for who you actually are.


In true love, you are feeling  good about yourself and attract those that  treat you well. Obtaining self-love means letting go of the ties to the abusive parental object,so as to free yourself from the attachment patterns of seeking love and approval to feel okay. Truly loving yourself means you engage in self-care and protect yourself from abuse, so you’ll be yourself and feel loved for the important person you are.

You May Also Like:

Self Care After Trauma: How To Tell an Abuser and Signs of Abuse

Healthy Relationships: Handling Emotional Abuse

If you are going through abuse or you know a person going through abuse, the Gender-Based Violence-free hotline is 1195. If you would like to join a community of women healing from abuse, WhatsApp +254736275978.

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